Air Force Ready for Iran if Peaceful Policies Fail
The Air Force has the required weapons the United States would probably use against Iran should the need arise, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Feb. 29, Schwartz said that he and fellow service chiefs have presented the president with a platter of options to go after Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“We have capabilities that apply in a variety of contexts,” he said.
One of the weapons that has been discussed in connection with Iran has been the Air Force’s Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound bomb that was developed to destroy hard-to-get-at facilities.
Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright recently told a panel that, short of an invasion, the United States lacked the tools to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Retired Navy Adm. William Fallon echoed that sentiment, suggesting that only ground forces would be able to do the job.
When asked about these perceived shortcomings, Schwartz simply said, “We have an operational capability that you wouldn’t want to be there if we use it," he said. “Strike is about physics, and the deeper you go, the harder it gets,” Schwartz said.
He declined to speculate on whether U.S. air power could dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. That is a "grand hypothetical,” Schwartz said.
“Everything we do has to have an objective. What is the objective? Is it to eliminate? Is it to delay? Is it to complicate?” he said. “There is a tendency for all of us to get tactical too quickly.”
The problem at this point is still one of policy, the general said, and leaders have offered the president both military and non-military options to deal with Iran.